The Most Useful D&D Miniatures to Buy On a Budget

When I started playing Dungeons & Dragons battles on a map, I used tokens and Cardboard Heroes instead of miniatures. Today’s gamers have similar inexpensive options ranging from tokens, to cardboard pawns on plastic bases, to printable paper minis, to flat-plastic miniatures.

When pre-painted plastic miniatures reached stores, I figured I would augment my cardboard with a few common monsters: orcs and skeletons and the lot. But the appeal of miniatures proved irresistible and my collection grew unchecked.

If you’re cheaper or more sensible than I am, you can still follow my original plan and collect a small group of broadly useful miniatures—the sort of figures I use so often that I never bother to file them away. Such common figures tend to come cheap too. This post features the most useful figures to buy on a budget. As of posting, I found all the pre-painted selections for sale at between $2 and $5 each. Unpainted picks often come a bit cheaper. To find these figures yourself, paste the figure caption into search and browse the listings that appear.

Typically, pre-painted figures come randomized in boxes, so if you buy a box, the you never know what you get. For maximum value on useful figures, buy singles from online vendors. For bargain hunters I recommend going the web site of a miniatures vendor, selecting all the D&D, Pathfinder, or D&D Miniatures and sorting by lowest cost first. Pages of bargains appear, many for broadly useful figures.

Unpainted figures bring the new hobby of painting miniatures. But the hobby of painting welcomes dabblers more than you may think. Even a beginner can paint figures with more appeal then some slapdash factory job. Just buy a painting starter set, put on headphones, and enjoy the almost meditative flow that comes from painting.

Bandits and thugs

The Bandit Knocker’s club and hodgepodge of armor makes the figure my favorite back-alley brawler.

Reaper Bandit Knocker (sold unpainted)

Reaper Bones: Bandit Knocker 77510 (sold unpainted)

Nolzur's Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Bandits

Nolzur’s Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Bandits

Storm Kings Thunder #14 Bandit Captain

Storm Kings Thunder #14: Bandit Captain

 

Guards and soldiers

Heroes & Monsters #08 Watch Guard

Heroes & Monsters #08: Watch Guard

Watch Officer Heroes & Monsters #9

Heroes & Monsters #9: Watch Officer

Deep Cuts Unpainted Miniatures: Town Guards

Deep Cuts Unpainted Miniatures: Town Guards

Night Below #13: Greyhawk City Militia Sergeant

Night Below #13: Greyhawk City Militia Sergeant

 

Zombies and corporeal undead

The Terror Wight figure serves as a wight, ghoul, or any other corporeal undead, making it one of the most versatile figures.

Nolzur's Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Zombies

Nolzur’s Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Zombies

Terror Wight War Drums #34

War Drums #34: Terror Wight

Reaper Bones Zombies

Reaper Bones: Zombies 77342

Incorporeal undead

Translucent undead figures stand in for ghosts, wraiths, and more.

Banshee Rage of Demons #21

Rage of Demons #21: Banshee

Not pictured: Boneyard #05: Ghost

Skeletons

Reaper makes a variety of skeletons for their Bones line.

Reaper bones: Skeletons (various, comes unpainted)

Reaper bones: Skeletons (various, come unpainted)

esert of Desolation #39: Boneshard Skeleton

Desert of Desolation #39: Boneshard Skeleton

Nolzur's Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Skeletons

Nolzur’s Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Skeletons

Spiders

The giant spider is large, while the other spiders are medium sized.

Wolf Spider Elemental Evil #08

Elemental Evil #08: Wolf Spider

Nolzur's Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Spiders

Nolzur’s Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Spiders

Reaper Bones Giant Spider

Reaper Bones: Giant Spider (sold unpainted)

Giant rats

Reaper Bones: Barrow rats 77198

Reaper Bones: Barrow rats 77198

Wolves

The wolf pack has medium figures, while the winter wolf is large.

Reaper Bones: Wolf pack 02830

Reaper Bones: Wolf pack 02830

Reaper Bones: Winter wolf 77437

Reaper Bones: Winter wolf 77437

Knights

Figures with full helms work best because they double as animated armor, helmed horrors, and the like.

Underdark #11: Royal Guard

Underdark #11: Royal Guard

Waterdeep Dungeon of the Mad Mage #36: Dezmyr Shadowdusk

Waterdeep Dungeon of the Mad Mage #36: Dezmyr Shadowdusk

Reaper Bones: Knight Heroes 77676

Reaper Bones: Knight Heroes 77676

Evil spellcaster

Baldur's Gate Descent Into Avernus #08: Falaster Fisk

Baldur’s Gate Descent Into Avernus #08: Falaster Fisk

Deathknell #36: Grim Necromancer

Deathknell #36: Grim Necromancer

Cultists

Reaper Bones: Cultists and Circle 77351

Reaper Bones: Cultists and Circle 77351

Berserkers

Waterdeep Dungeon of the Mad Mage #17: Berserker

Waterdeep Dungeon of the Mad Mage #17: Berserker

Not pictured: Monster Menagerie 2 #19: Half-Orc Barbarian

Goblins

Orcs see the table almost as often as goblins, but the smaller humanoids make better low-level foes, so their figures prove more useful.

Monster Menagerie 2 #03: Goblin

Monster Menagerie 2 #03: Goblin

Savage Encounters #16: Goblin Skullcleaver

Savage Encounters #16: Goblin Skullcleaver

Nolzur's Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Goblins

Nolzur’s Marvelous Unpainted Minis: Goblins

Assassins and rogues

Reaper Bones: Romag Davl, Thief 30004

Reaper Bones: Romag Davl, Thief 30004

Not pictured: Kingmaker #10: Shadow Rogue

8 thoughts on “The Most Useful D&D Miniatures to Buy On a Budget

  1. Creeper Jr.

    This is a great post for new GMs. I build my “go-kit” of minis (a box that’s always in my DM bag) from these types of minis. One mini that I get a lot of mileage from is a Sladd (color doesn’t really matter). Having a couple of large minis that are kind of humanoid/kind of monstrous is really handy.

    Reply
  2. alphastream

    This is great. I know folks are often asking the question of how to get started. I would also suggest looking at the recent themed packs WizKids is offering of visible minis, such as Goblin Warband or Orc Warband or Cave Defenders. These provide a nice monster squad you can use. And, if you end up with a bunch, may I recommend this article for storage and organization options: https://alphastream.org/index.php/2020/03/26/how-to-store-and-organize-your-miniatures/

    Reply
  3. ThrorII

    You can call me cheap, but I just call myself lacking in artistic painting ability….

    I swear by printing out paper minis and using clear plastic bases. A little scissor work, a little glue, and I’m ready to run a game

    Reply
  4. Infinitum3D

    AllThingsHeroscape.com has a set of 4 painted warriors for under $6 USD

    https://www.allthingsheroscape.com/products/tarn-viking-warriors-heroscape-rise-of-the-valkyrie?_pos=1&_sid=8ab93ddb7&_ss=r

    They also have a red dragon (search Mimring) for about the same price.

    I also bought this bucket of monsters https://www.amazon.com/SCS-Direct-Monster-Action-Figure/dp/B00W5WSN5A#immersive-view_1555800754414 for about $20USD and even though there are only 13 unique shapes, they work well for D&D, especially after I painted them. Less than a dollar a figure!

    Good luck!

    Reply
  5. BigDaddy

    [allThingsHeroscape.com](https://www.allthingsheroscape.com/products/tarn-viking-warriors-heroscape-rise-of-the-valkyrie) has a set of 4 warriors already painted for $5 USD and a Red/Copper [Dragon](https://www.allthingsheroscape.com/products/mimring-heroscape-rise-of-the-valkyrie) for $6 USD and a [set of 30 figures](https://www.allthingsheroscape.com/collections/rise-of-the-valkyrie/products/build-your-heroscape-army-rise-of-the-valkyrie-30-figures-and-cards) for under $30 USD but some of those are robots and army guys, so they’ll need some modifications and repainted.

    Ok, don’t laugh too hard at me, but I got [this “bucket of monsters” ](https://www.amazon.com/SCS-Direct-Monster-Action-Figure/dp/B00W5WSN5A#immersive-view_1555800754414) really cheap, and you’d be surprised at how many will work for D&D, especially if you paint them. It’s 100 monsters for, like $18 bucks American.

    Edit: [This is a “fantasy creatures” bucket](https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0746TKNSL/ref=sspa_mw_detail_0?ie=UTF8&psc=1) for $23.

    Reply

Leave a Reply